10 tips for getting the most out of EMS

EMS top tips

Is your first EMS placement on the horizon? Or maybe you’ve embarked on several placements previously, but aren't feeling that you've made the most out of them? Read our top 10 tips on how you can really utilise this essential element of your veterinary education! 

1. Be proactive!

You will only get as much out of the placement as you put in, so ask questions, get stuck in, offer to help, and you’ll find that not only do you get more responsibility and respect, but you’ll enjoy yourself more too. 

2. If you’re not sure about something, ASK!

If you don’t, you’re potentially putting yourself, others and the animals at risk. Plus, there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

3. Make sure you know where you are expected to go on the first day...

...plus where you can park, what to bring and what to wear, well in advance. It’s often advisable to email/ring a couple of weeks before your placement, just to confirm these details. 

4. Say thank you when you leave!

I often write a thank you card (and a small box of chocolates for the staff room if they’ve been really supportive) for my last day. Not only does this show how grateful you are, but it also makes them more likely to take on students the next year, paving the way for the next lot of us. 

5. Give feedback

If you have an online system where you can comment on placements, fill this in after you go. It really helps the years following to find the best placement for them. 

6. Don’t get stuck in a rut

Branch out and try new things, whether that be applying for APHA, a placement at VetRecord, working in a lab or attending a congress (such as AVS!). The more exposure we have to the different aspects of our profession, the more well-rounded vets we’ll be in the future. 

7. Book in advance

Make sure you enquire at places you think will be competitive over a year in advance (zoos/wildlife parks, equine referral hospitals, etc.) 

8. Consider cost

If the costs of a placements are hindering you, consider applying for the AVS Clinical EMS grants, or for the paid Vets4Pets placements that are advertised each year.

9. Think about where you will stay

If you have family/friends who would be willing to, ask them if you could stay for a couple of weeks and find a placement near them – it means you can see practice in a different location without having to fork out for mega expensive accommodation.  

10. Going abroad?

If you’re going abroad for a placement, ensure you have the correct insurance. If you’re a member of BVA, then you have insurance in the UK - ring their insurance providers (Lloyd & Whyte) to enquire about other destinations. Your vet school likely won’t let you go without some form of insurance, so it’s worth checking! 

EMS guides

The AVS MSG (Members' Services Group) have produced EMS guides for both pre-clinical and clinical vet students to help them organise placements as well as giving advice on how to get the most out of them. It includes both general advice and species specific advice covering all the species and different types of placement. 

Pre-clinical EMS guide
Clinical EMS guide

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